- 1 Before your bid
- 2 As early as possible
- 3 Next on the list
- 4 Other things best done earlier rather than later
- 5 If you have spare time after doing all that
- 6 Two months before
- 7 One month before
- 8 A week before
- 9 Two days before
- 10 One day before
- 11 The day of
- 12 During the event
- 13 Last day
- 14 Afterwards
Before your bid
A lot of teams have put in a bid with nothing more than a couple of people and some good ideas. But it will make your life easier if you can have a few things sorted out first.
- A provisional agreement with a venue. You won't have a contract, but you will ideally have a clear idea of the price. Finding suitable venues can be difficult, and it will make you and everyone else much happier if you have somewhere lined up.
- A team. That's more than one person who's committed to making your BJC happen. You don't need thirty enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers at this point.
As early as possible
These are things which you should ideally sort out the moment your bid is chosen. Lots of these things take time, lots of them should be done before anything else, and all of these things are essential.
BJC Southend put in their successful bid two years before (instead of the customary one year) and benefited greatly from an extra year's lead time to get all these ducks lined up.
- A budget
- A project plan
- A limited company
- A Bank account
- Event insurance
- A Licence
- Enough money to cover any venue deposits you need. Hopefully loans from previous years will cover this; otherwise, helpful relatives or early ticket sales may do the trick, or perhaps you could sell shares or organise a fundraising event like York did.
- A signed contract on your venue
- A signed contract for the supply of any big tops/marquees you need.
- A provisional site plan, done by someone who knows what they are doing. You can't budget accurately for site expenses if you don't know how much fencing you need, whether you're hiring a generator, etc. If there are show-stopping problems with your site then now is the time to find out.
Assuming you're having a public show, then
- A signed contract on your Public show venue
- A show producer who's starting to scout for acts. Leave this until too late and all the good acts will be busy on your dates.
If you are considering External Funding then the earlier you write the application the better.
Next on the list
Once you have the basics in place, you can start to think about when you want to open pre-reg. If you have enough money for deposits, there's no reason to be in a hurry. But you need to decide on a date, and then you need to plan your website to be ready by this date.
If you open pre-reg before Christmas, people will buy tickets as Christmas presents.
If you open very early, beware of selling too many reduced price tickets. Consider raising your pre-reg price to the door price at some stage.
At this point, the level of interest in your BJC is probably rising, and you need to think about how you will maintain that interest, and convince your customers that your BJC is something they'd enjoy. If you go completely dark and nobody hears from you for months on end, you run the risk of a low turnout - people forget; they make other plans; or they just worry that your event may not be well organised.
Try to put someone in charge of regularly publishing information (on your website, facebook, twitter, whatever).
In 2008 the website and ticket sales went live in November, but there is no reason the website cannot go live before the tickets sales start if you have a confirmed venue and date (even if it just a simple splash page.
Other things best done earlier rather than later
If you want Evening events, then the earlier you book it the more choice you will have.
Make sure someone is co-ordinating traders. Usually this is one of the traders and all it takes is a quick phone call.
If you want a parade, then you need to organise this with the council.
Catering and bar
Working out who will run Reg desk
If you have spare time after doing all that
If everything listed above is in order, then you can start planning frills. All of these things are ideally handled mostly by someone outside the main team.
Two months before
Your public show acts should all be under contract at this point, any lighting and a/v requirements for the public show should be well understood and planned for and you should now have accurate costings from your show team.
You should be booking your security team if you haven't already.
Work out what your lead time is on your passes and merchandise. Allow time for things to go wrong. Plan out exactly what you're going to buy, how much of it, and where from. Work out where it will be delivered to, and when you should put the order in.
Start casting about for volunteers. Much earlier than this and most people will be reluctant to commit (or will commit and then flake out).
Historically, people have closed pre-reg at this time, although more recently it's been popular to continue selling tickets at door prices until the last minute. Work out when you need to stop taking cheques - nobody wants cheques turning up at their house during the event, and nobody on your core team wants to be doing bank runs during the last week.
Double check your budget. If you have the faintest whiff of an inkling that you are going over budget, now is the time to sit down and work out which things you can cancel to get the budget back under control.
Start putting together everything you need for your information booklet. Find out when you will need to send it to print, add a good safety margin and make sure it will all be done in time.
One month before
Go to site with your site manager and make a very detailed site plan. Make sure you have a list of everything that needs hiring or buying in.
With the site manager, make your get-in plan (what arrives when) and make sure that all your suppliers know when they should arrive.
Double check that your site layout works with the level of security staffing you have booked.
Go over your get-in plan with your venue to make sure they know what's happening and that you will have access to everywhere necessary.
Order the things that need hiring.
Call all suppliers and confirm (even ones with written contracts).
Consider how you will manage your budget during the event. You'll need a way to record the cash coming in and going out. How will you tell when you've broken even? How will you tell when things are over budget?
A week before
Make a shopping list and start shopping.
Make a list of things to take to the venue and consider how you will get it all there.
Make a list of signage for the site and print as much of it as possible beforehand.
Make up any external road signs and find someone to take responsibility for putting them up and taking them down.
Consider your policies for handling the following, should team members encounter them.
- underage drinking
- drug taking
- sale of drugs
- general unmanageable obnoxious behaviour by customers.
Communicate your policies to the team. Talk about when you will and will not throw people out.
Reiterate to potential customers that they should not arrive on site before the event starts.
Two days before
If you have a big top, it will probably start going up two days before. Somebody needs to be on site to make sure it goes up in the right place. Once it's there, somebody should be on site 24/7 (either the big top people or someone from your team). Insurance is nice but it's better if the tent isn't vandalised in the first place.
If you have access to indoors, get your on site office set up with a working printer and laminator, ready for the onslaught of unexpected sign printing the next day. Get your merchandise on site while things are quiet. Make sure you have internet access - you'll need it to sort out all the things you've forgotten.
The team should go and introduce themselves to any of the venue staff they haven't met - particularly management, duty managers who will be working during the event, security staff, and (if you can) the cleaners. Warn them what to expect and let them know they can talk to you if they have problems. The relationship between you and the venue people is vital during the event; you may as well start off on the right foot.
Road signs can go up.
Go to the bank and get a small float for reg desk.
Anything else that you can possibly sort out before the chaos of the next day, get it done!
One day before
Lots of volunteers arrive. Decide who is the final authority for questions and communicate this to everybody. The site manager needs to take responsibility for health and safety on what is essentially a building site. This must come with a level of authority and the volunteers need to be aware of this.
Smaller tents arrive, caterers arrive, fencing needs to go up, any toilets and showers arrive. Campsite lighting and fire lanes go in. Once the site layout is nearly complete, signs start going in.
Reg desk area setup begins. The team may like to pre-package all the bits and bobs for everyone that's pre-registered, so that a relatively low-skilled crew can handle the non-cash side of the desk during the initial rush.
Reg desk test their procedures by registering everybody they can find on site.
Hard working volunteers get pizza and sleep very well.
Ideally by the end of the day, all health and safety hazards are sorted out, everything that needs securing away is secured away, toilets are functional, and caterers will be hooked up to whatever power and drainage they need. Fire extinguishers and fire exit signs are in position and fire lanes marked out. Strictly speaking you can leave some of this until tomorrow, but you can guarantee that some of your customers will arrive early, and you don't want them crapping in a bush or falling down a manhole.
The day of
This involves problem solving of everything that didn't quite work out the previous day.
If you can, get someone to drive to site, arrive as if they had never been to a BJC before, find reg desk, find the main hall, find the camping, find toilets and tell you where you could benefit from better signage.
You may receive visits from the local licensing people, the fire brigade, the police, and so on. They want to have a look around and a nice chat. This is where you need to have your ducks in a row with your site plan - if these people think your site is not safe they can shut you down.
The security team should show up shortly before the event starts and will need briefing by the site manager.
This is a good time to put out workshop boards, pizza leaflets, catering menus, notice boards and any other front desk paraphernalia.
During the event
Mainly organised chaos at this point.
Show acts will be arriving at airports and need picking up.
Customers will have thousands of questions and problems.
Reg desk will need relieving of cash regularly.
Site manager will need to be checking fences regularly, talking to security, monitoring fuel usage, etc etc.
The budget needs to be kept up to date to monitor the effect of any overruns.
If you sell out of merchandise very early you may be able to put an order in.
Someone needs to be on top of housekeeping.
There will undoubtedly be some emergencies - hopefully minor ones - involving first aid, lost passports, lost children, etc etc.
Team members need to look after one another and watch out for people who need food or sleep.
As people are leaving, this is your last opportunity to recruit volunteers to do heavy lifting. Get the fences squared away as soon as possible, or you'll be left with two exhausted team members sorting this out at the last minute.
Make sure everybody gets paid. Get rid of lost property.
Sleep for a week!